‘New Sustainability Champions’ Recognized in Emerging Markets

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All 16 companies have revenue below $5 billion and all strive to find innovative measures to transform their economic or geographic limitations into opportunities. (Image: Stock.xchng)
All 16 companies have revenue below $5 billion and all strive to find innovative measures to transform their economic or geographic limitations into opportunities. (Image: Stock.xchng)

BUSINESS

  • WEF names 16 companies for innovative environmental and economic excellence
  • China’s Broad Group singled out as a producer of zero-energy air conditioners
  • Companies chosen hailed as industry role models that proactively engage with stakeholder groups and positively influence environment

A report by the World Economic Forum identifies 16 companies in emerging economies for implementing innovative and rapid growth solutions while maintaining highest standards of environmental and social practices.

The 16 “New Sustainability Champions” come from diverse nations such as China, Costa Rica, Egypt, and South Africa, with companies such as Suzlon, Woolworths and Natura among those named.

All 16 companies have revenue below $5 billion and all strive to find innovative measures to transform their economic or geographic limitations into opportunities. Often faced with poor infrastructure and inefficient environmental practices by local governments, sustainability is ingrained in their company culture, said the WEF.

Compiled in conjunction with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the study looked at over 1,000 companies from many different industries to highlight those that demonstrated exemplary levels of innovation, sustainability and scalability. The WEF said the study was particularly interesting “given the challenges faced by emerging market companies, which often have to deal with multiple problems."

Industry Role Models

China’s Broad Group was singled out as one of the largest producers of zero-energy air conditioners in the world. Instead of relying on fossil fuels for cooling, its innovative system uses small natural gas burners for cooling. A lithium bromide solution is brought to boil and the resulting vapors are passed through a condenser, which cools the air

The firm says its systems are two times more efficient than standard electric cooling units. It controls half of China’s green air conditioner market.

The sustainability theme is also very present in the workplace, with 60% of Broad Group’s 2,000 employees housed free of charge on nearby Broad Town campus. Most of the food for the campus comes from a local organic farm.

Another firm to be named in the WEF report was Manila Water in the Philippines, which creates community initiatives and offers flexible billing options so that as many people as possible can access clean water.

Kenya’s Equity Bank was included for its innovative mobile banking network, designed to facilitate financial transactions in remote areas.

BCG partner and managing director Knut Haanaes praised the 16 companies for setting an example in their industries and regions.

"While demonstrating superior industry performance and operational efficiency, the New Sustainability Champions innovate to overcome the real constraints that they face. They proactively engage with all stakeholder groups and positively influence their environments. As a result, they generate steady profitable growth and are role models,” said Haanaes.

"The New Sustainability Champions are more than just symbols. Their overall performance matters because emerging markets in total are set to contribute more than three-quarters of global growth by 2025 - and because those markets will likely feel resource scarcity most."

Rankings – Top 16 Sustainability Champions (source: World Economic Forum)

  • Grupo Balbo (Brazil, sugar production)
  • Natura (Brazil, cosmetics)
  • Masisa (Chile forestry/manufacturing)
  • Florida Ice & Farm (Costa Rica, food and beverages)
  • Sekem (Egypt, agriculture)
  • MTR Corporation (Hong Kong, transportation)
  • Jain Irrigation Systems (India, manufacturing/agriculture)
  • Shree Cement (India, cement)
  • Suzlon (India, renewable energy)
  • Equity Bank (Kenya, financial services)
  • New Britain Palm Oil (Papua New Guinea, agriculture)
  • Broad Group (China, manufacturing)
  • Suntech (China, renewable energy(
  • Zhangzidao Fishery (China, aquaculture)
  • Manila Water (Philippines, infrastructure)
  • Woolworths (South Africa, retail)

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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